Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Right Man for the Times?

I rather liked the way in which Richard Fairman introduced his review of the current production of Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto at the Royal Opera House, particularly after yesterday's thoughts about this opera:

If times are going to be hard, opera companies need productions that will earn their keep. David McVicar’s production of Rigoletto at Covent Garden is proving a good investment – a straightforward staging with no controversial ideas and minimal sets, which probably does not take a lot of rehearsal.

In many ways this may be read as an endorsement of the way in which David Gockley has planned the 2009–10 season of the San Francisco Opera; and, through what may be a happy coincidence, it turns out that McVicar will be the director of the production of Il Trovatore (shared with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Metropolitan Opera) that will open the San Francisco season. Not only is this opera far from Verdi at his best; but also it will always labor under the ribbing it took from the Marx Brothers in A Night at the Opera (which will be honored, at least subconsciously) when the September 19 performance is simulcast in AT&T Park. The opera tends to fare best when it is given the sort of bread-and-butter treatment that McVicar has applied to his Rigoletto. By all rights, then, the production should carry us through any Marx Brothers absurdity associated with the Anvil Chorus to the third act, when we can enjoy a rousing "Di quella pira!"

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